Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gene Hamilton's Betterride

I went to Gene Hamilton's Betterride clinic this weekend in Fruita. I have always wanted to go to Fruita so the clinic gave me a great excuse to fly out there.

We flew to Salt Lake City then to Grand Junction. The views from the plane were amazing. I always thought Google earth looked fake but after flying over those mountains I stand corrected.

The mountains really do look cartoonish once you get to a certain height. How the land can be perfectly flat in one section then rise up into the crazy folds and peaks in another is incredible.

After we got off the plane we stopped at a pretty good coffee/sandwich place called La Paninoteca. The sandwiches were actually paninis. Now I not would call myself a panini man per se, but as far as paninis goes these weren't too bad. I got some spicey sausage that tasted pretty good. All of the ingredients were very fresh and of high quality.

After lunch we drove to Fruita and found a great place to stay for $45 bucks a night. The Balanced Rock motel looked a little sketchy on the outside, but the inside was really nice and clean. Our view overlooked the interstate and railroad tracks. The noise from the trucks and trains reminded me of home. :)

I picked up my bike at Over the Edge Bike shop. The guys there were great, and the shop is really nice. They did their best to get my 7 year old bent front derailleur adjusted properly. I think next time I will just rent one of their high end bikes. Shipping your bike to and from somewhere is a hassle.

Friday morning I got up early and rode my bike over to Reed park for the clinic.

Gene went over bike setup, body placement, vision, and wheelies. We did drills in the parking lot so we would feel comfortable while learning new stuff. If we had started on the trail then we would have probably been paying more attention to the trail than the skills we were learning.

I had a hard time looking up. I guess I normally look a couple feet in front of my wheel. I usually clear the first obstacle I am staring at, but if there is another obstacle immediately after the first obstacle then I just crash into the second obstacle and fall over. If I can force myself to keep my head up, then I am sure I will be more prepared for the things ahead of me.

Later that afternoon we drove over to Rustler's Loop and practiced the skills we learned on the trail. It was great having Gene giving you advice as we rode. He also stopped several times and had us play around on some interesting trail features.

Friday night all the campers went to Fiesta Guadalajara for some Mexican food. It was nice sitting around talking getting to know each other off the bike. The food was excellent and the margaritas were even better.

Saturday the rains came down. We ended up in small covered parking pad in Grand Junction. It was freezing but it was better than sitting around in my hotel. Gene taught us about cornering, step ups, bunny hops, and switchbacks. My cornering has gotten really crappy lately so I was really happy to learn how to corner correctly.

We practiced cornering by setting up a figure 8 out of orange plastic cones. Gene showed us how to weight our outside foot, lean the bike not the rider, apply counter pressure to the inside grip, lean forward with elbows out to weight the front tire, and most importantly look up and through the corner. It is hard to do all those things at one time so we practiced each piece at a time. I will need to do this drill a couple times a week for as long as I ride my bike.

Sunday we met again at Reed park.

The rain had stopped but the trails were still soaked. We spent a couple hours reviewing what we had learned the previous days and did some fun slalom runs in the parking lot. Again Gene showed us how much easier things are by keeping our head up and looking past the cones. I admit it was almost comical how much easier the slalom was when I stopped looking right in front of wheel.

Then we headed over to Rustler's again and practiced our cornering skills. We did repeats on this one long downhill. Gene would ride in front of and behind us giving us tips as we rode. It really helped solidify the things he taught us the day before.

Monday I woke up and didn't feel really good. I ended up taking my bike back to the bike shop early and spend the day exploring the Colorado National Monument with Amy.

It was a good decision and I had a great time.

I didn't get to ride any of the trails I wanted to but the clinic was better than I expected. I learned a bunch of drills that I can use to improve as a cyclist. It is going to be tough because I have so many bad habits to break. I feel confident that I can do it though now that I have the knowledge Gene gave me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Sounds like a great clinic. Thanks for the write up.